Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Real Villain of Childhood Obesity

The media and many politicians often like to discuss childhood obesity. To them, this issue looms as one of the most horrible social problems of our time. Kids carrying extra weight will certainly cause the decline of Western Civilization as we know it. Most media figures and trial lawyers have a ready villain, the free market system that allows such evil places as McDonalds and such horrible items as video games to be marketed to children.

Video games are in their third decade of use. Ever since Pong and Pac Man, experts have told us that children spend too much time playing these games. Only now have diabetes rates confirmed their fears. Something must have happened between Asteroids and World of Warcraft to account for this. McDonalds served these kids' grandparents so do not blame them either.

The big changes have come in the public school system. Rural children are supposedly at highest risk for obesity, experts love to blame ignorance. So many rural counties consolidated their school systems, closing small community schools in favor of mega facilities at central locations. This means that children in a place like Preston County must ride the bus for well over an hour. Schools in an effort to cram as much knowledge into children's heads as possible whittled recess to a short number of minutes and in many cases do not run year round physical education. Some genius somewhere, probably in California, decided that elementary school children need mountains of homework to reinforce what they learned all day in school.

So the child gets up at the crack of dawn, rides a bus for over an hour, gets to school, sits there almost all day with little activity, rides home, has endless amounts of homework (while he or she does all this work they probably are snacking) and then hopefully has a short period of time to play before sundown. If the child takes the initiative and plays a sport, then there are times the homework simply does not get done and their grades fall. The decreasing numbers of children playing sports in some areas suggests that school has grown overwhelming in its time demands off campus.

I need not remind you of who has held the school system in their stranglehold for decades. Common sense went out the door long ago. Don't blame the students and do not always blame the teachers or administrators. Those up high that make decisions for all have pushed education in some very negative directions.

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